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No Kill Primer 2011

No Kill Primer 2011

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Published by Shoshannah Forbes

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Published by: Shoshannah Forbes on Nov 04, 2011
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No Kill 101
A PUBLICATION OF THE NO KILL ADVOCACY CENTER
A Primer on No Kill Animal ControlSheltering for Public Officials
 
1 No Kill 101
A Revolution Begins
In the last decade and a half, severalshelters in numerous communities havecomprehensively implemented a bold se-ries of programs and services to reducebirthrates, increase placements, andkeep animals with their responsible care-takers. As a result, they are achieving un-precedented results, saving upwards of 95percent of all impounded animals in openadmission animal control facilities. Someof these communities are in urban com-munities, and others are in rural communi-ties. Some are in very politically liberalcommunities, and others are in very con-servative ones. Some are in municipalitieswith high per capita incomes, and othersare in communities known for high rates ofpoverty. These communities share very lit-tle demographically. What they do shareis leadership at their shelters who havecomprehensively implemented a key se-ries of programs and services, collectivelyreferred to as the “No Kill Equation.”The fundamental lesson from the experi-ences of these communities is that thechoices made by shelter managers arethe most significant variables in whether animals live or die. Several communitiesare more than doubling adoptions andcutting killing by as much as 75 percent— and it isn’t taking them five years or moreto do it. They are doing it virtuallyovernight. In Reno, Nevada, local sheltersinitiated an incredible lifesaving initiativethat saw adoptions increase as much as80 percent and deaths decline by 51 per-cent in one year, despite taking in a com-bined 16,000 dogs and cats.In addition to the speed with which it wasattained, what also makes Reno’s successso impressive is that the community takesin over two times the number of animalsper capita than the U.S. national averageand as much as five times the rate ofneighboring communities and major U.S.cities. In 2010, 91 percent of dogs andcats were saved, despite an economicand foreclosure crisis that has gripped theregion. They are proving that communitiescan quickly save the vast majority of ani-mals once they commit to do so, even inthe face of public irresponsibility or eco-nomic crisis. This is consistent with the re-sults in Charlottesville (VA), TompkinsCounty (NY), and others.Unfortunately, many shelter directors re-main steadfast in their refusal to embracethe No Kill paradigm. Among the variousexcuses for why it cannot be done, thethree most common are that there aresimply too many animals for the availablehomes (“pet overpopulation”), that shel-
Communities can quickly savethe vast majority of animalsonce they commit to do so,even in the face of public irre-sponsibility or economic crisis.
NO KILL 101:
A Primer on No Kill Animal Control Shelteringfor Public Officials
 
No Kill Advocacy Center 2
ters are not given adequate fund-ing by local governments to get the job done without killing, and thatthe No Kill philosophy is inconsistentwith their public safety obligations.
RethinkingConventionalWisdom
In the United States, however, review ofthe data, as well as the experiences ofthe most innovative, progressive, and bestperforming shelters nationwide, provethat our movement needs to re-evaluateboth the notion as to “who is to blame” aswell as “what shelters can do about it.” Toput it bluntly, shelters have the ability tosave animals who are not irremediablysuffering, hopelessly ill, or truly vicious dogs(which, combined, apprise less than tenpercent of all impounds), and they cando so very quickly. And the two mostoften cited reasons—pet overpopulationand lack of resources—have not shown tobe true barriers to success.
No Kill Is Cost Effective
To begin with, many of the programsidentified as key components of savinglives are more cost-effective than im-pounding, warehousing, and then killinganimals. Some rely on private philan-thropy, as in the use of rescue groups,which shifts costs of care from public tax-payers to private individuals and groups.Others, such as the use of volunteers, aug-ment paid human resources. Still others,such as adoptions, bring in revenue. And,finally, some, such as neutering rather than killing feral cats, are simply less ex-pensive, with exponential savings in termsof reducing births.In addition, a 2009 multi-state study foundno correlation between per capita fund-ing for animal control and save rates. Onecommunity saved 90 percent of the ani-mals, while another saved only 40 percentdespite four times the per capita rate ofspending on animal control. One commu-nity has seen killing rates increase over 30percent despite one of the best-fundedshelter systems in the nation. Another hascaused death rates to drop by 50 percentdespite cutting spending. In other words,there was no correlation between suc-cess/failure and per capita spending onanimal control. The difference betweenthose shelters that succeeded and thosethat failed was not the size of the budget,but the programmatic effort of its leader-ship.In other words, the amount of per capitaspending did not seem to make a differ-ence. What did make a difference wasleadership: the commitment of shelter managers to implement a key series ofnecessary programs.
The Data Disproves Overpopulation
The second reason often cited for failureto embrace and/or achieve No Kill is theidea of pet overpopulation, but the datahere has also not borne out the claim. It isimportant to note that the argument thatthere are enough homes for shelter ani-mals does not also include any claimsthat some people aren’t irresponsible withanimals. It doesn’t mean it wouldn’t bebetter if there were fewer of them beingimpounded. Nor does it mean that shel-
Many of the programs identifiedas key components of savinglives are more cost-effectivethan killing animals.

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